Nobody wants to resent anyone. None of us wake up and say today I am going to feel negatively toward someone in my life.
It just happens.
It happens when we least expect it. Or it can happen because we expect someone to let us down again, as we’ve seen this happen before. And it can happen to any one of us.
It can happen seemingly out of nowhere, or we can see it coming from a mile away. There is no standard form of resentment, but one thing rings true for most cases.
Resentments happen when we expect things from people and they do not deliver.
You may have a need that needs to be met, and either consciously or subconsciously you expect it to met by someone in your life. When that need is not met, we feel let down, disappointment, and often times, resentment.
We all have needs. It’s part of human nature. We need to feel loved, seen, heard, valued, safe, important, just to name a few! It’s natural and normal for us to have these needs. Denying these needs only takes us away from ourselves and leaves us feeling unsatisfied, lost and defeated. Acknowledging and accepting that we firstly do have needs, secondly, what these needs are, and then thirdly, finding healthy ways to meet them, is key to feeling whole, loved, and safe inside of ourselves.
Generally we want to learn to meet a lot of our needs ourselves, so that when we enter into relationships, the other person can give to us freely, without demands or expectation from us. When affection and care is given freely, it can bloom into love, however when it is expected and demanded of, it cannot and will not get there.
The need for connection is a need that cannot be met on your own. Unlike the other needs mentioned, you need to connect with another to fulfill this need. However, there is a stark difference between connecting with another to share love, and connecting with another in attempt to fill an emptiness. Filling the emptiness is a solo task, it needs to come from connection to self, not connection to another. The connection to another will be healthy and harmonious only when the self fulfillment is already there. No one else can fulfill you, at least not permanently, only you can. Just as you cannot sustain someone else’s happiness for a long period of time. You may love your relationship with someone in your life, but you have other things and people in your life that you must, and want to attend to. You cannot focus only on one aspect of your life full time. You have moods, feelings, pressures, both internal and external, and you do your best each day to juggle and balance, survive and thrive through what life brings your way. So do the people in your life, the people that you have relationships with. Knowing this component will be essential in our journey toward releasing resentments and healing.
Now that we know we need to acknowledge our needs and learn to meet them in healthy ways, let’s dive into what resentment really is.
What is resentment?
There are certain standards we all have in relationships, of affection, love, care, and respect. We all deserve to feel loved and cherished by the people we value. However, it’s when we expect them to carry us, and they don’t, that resentment rears it’s dirty head. Resentment builds when we need someone to behave a certain way toward us, but they don’t. It’s when we want to be their object of attention when they cannot make us that, that we feel let down.
Why do we resent?
Why do we resent others when they don’t behave a certain way toward us? Because when we don’t receive the attention from them and thus the resulting feel good feelings, we are left with ourselves. We are left with the part of ourselves we have not wanted to face, the part their attention made us feel better about. We are left with the part of us that hurts, that’s been shunned, that has not received enough love, our love. We sought another’s love to fill the void we feel, but their love cannot truly heal us, only our own love can.
The reasons you resent someone are unique to you and precisely indicative of where you need to love yourself more.
If you resent your partner for not making time for you, you need to make more time for you. If you resent your sibling for being more successful then you need to see yourself as more successful or do something so you feel that way about yourself. If you resent someone for not making you feel beautiful, it’s really you that needs to see that you are in fact beautiful. It’s not the other person’s responsibility to make you feel this way, it’s yours.
Every relationship we have is just a mirror for us to reflect back where we need to love ourselves more. We mistakenly seek that love through external sources, through other people, when it’s our own love of our higher self that we truly seek.
Every relationship we have is just a mirror for us to reflect back where we need to love ourselves more. We mistakenly seek that love through external sources, through other people, when it’s our own love of our higher self that we truly seek.
Through this blog post, I’ll guide you through recognizing, and then releasing your resentment, so you can release those negative feelings and finally heal. I’ve included several journal prompts to help you with this. Get a pen and paper, and allow yourself to answer freely.
Download your free printable of these journal prompts at the bottom of this post.
It’s important that you don’t judge yourself for how you feel. It’s completely natural to have resentments. We all have feelings and often times our feelings are hurt and we try to hide them out of shame. But all this does is deepen the wound and prolong our pain, worst of all it destroys our relationships. The best thing we can do is to be honest with ourselves and recognize what we needed from this person and learn instead how to give this to ourselves. Once we do this, it will feel natural to forgive this person, for not being able to give us what we needed so badly from them, because we will have already given it to ourselves.
We all have feelings and often times our feelings are hurt and we try to hide them out of shame. But all this does is deepen the wound and prolong our pain, worst of all it destroys our relationships. The best thing we can do is to be honest with ourselves and recognize what we needed from this person and learn instead how to give this to ourselves.
How do you know if you’re resenting someone?
Resentment is holding negative feelings toward someone based on what they did or didn’t to you or for you.
- Do you feel resentment toward someone in your life? With whom, and why?
- What hurt you with their actions or lack of actions?
- What had you expected from them instead?
- How would you have felt if you had gotten what you needed from them?
- Instead, what did you have to learn to do for yourself?
- How did this situation make you grow as a person?(think, because of this situation, what were you forced to do?)
- What painful part of you were you trying to avoid? What void were you trying to fill?
- What part of you needed their love? Which part of their love did you need?
- Are you able to now or in the near future, to learn to give that type of love to yourself? What would that look like and feel like?
- How would you feel about yourself if you had that love?
- How would you feel about this person now?
You don’t really need this person to make you feel this sort of way. Once you’re able to feel this way yourself, you can share this version of yourself with them.
There is always something to be learned from every relationship we enter. People come into our lives to help us grow. The belief that people come into our lives to fulfil us is false and will lead you to unnecessary turmoil.
It’s actually our own job to fulfill ourselves and relationships are a place to share that joy. No one else is is responsible for your happiness. That all comes from you. Once you accept this, you can begin to take ownership over your own life, your feelings, and the role you play in your imbalanced relationships.
- Have you been expecting this person to fulfill a certain aspect of your life? If so what is it?
On a practical level, even if someone is good at meeting our need(s) it doesn’t feel very good to constantly be dependent upon someone else to feel fulfilled in this way. To need someone outside of ourselves to make us feel whole ultimately feels like an addiction, the same as when people become addicted to chemical substances. When they meet your need, you feel good, when they don’t meet your need you don’t feel good. You feel awful in fact. It’s much more empowering and satisfying and healthy, to feel independent and to be able to stand on our own two feet and feel good within yourself, and then interact with the people in our lives. This doesn’t mean we don’t value relationships or other people, it simple means we value the relationship with ourselves most.
- How would you feel if you weren’t affected by this person anymore? If what they did or didn’t do had no consequence for you, didn’t change how you feel about yourself, your life, or even your relationship with them?
- What does inner peace mean to you? What would that look like and feel like in your life?
- How would you feel if you were in control of your inner peace?
Most of other people’s actions actually have nothing to do with us and our worthiness, but instead are completely about them and what’s going on in their inner world, in their own relationship with themselves.
When someone you care about is not giving you love, it’s not because you don’t deserve it, it’s because they are not feeling loving. It’s also not your job to make someone love you. You are good enough as you are. You are loveable as you are. You deserve love now, as you are. However this doesn’t mean that this person should ignore their own inner world just to make you feel good. That ‘s not what relationships are for. Relationships are to share our lives and our hearts with one another. Its each person’s job to ensure their own happiness and wellbeing, not anyone else’s.
- How would you feel if you knew that this person’s actions were all about them and where they were at, and had nothing to do with you?
- How would things look if you knew you could feel good anyway? Even if this person didn’t show up how you wanted them to?
- Imagine what it would look like and feel like to know your worth no matter what anyone else did or said. How would life be for you?
Sometimes we just have to accept this person simply cannot give us what we need. They are not capable, they don’t have it in them. For some reason in the past, we thought that they did. Either we were wrong, misled, or not seeing things clearly as we are now. They are not intentionally not giving us that, they just cant, they don’t know how. So to expect them to is a delusion on our part.
Does this mean the relationship has to continue just because it has up until this point? No, of course not. We are the captain of our own ships, and can change course anytime we like.
This also doesn’t mean it has to end. For some people this shift in perspective and meeting our own needs ourselves is enough to save and sustain the relationship. Their negative feelings are reduced, which in turn makes more room for the positive feelings to grow.
No one person, other than ourselves can meet all of our needs anyway. By releasing the resentment, you may be able to see the relationship from a new perspective, and it could take a turn to a positive direction that you had not deemed possible previously.
When the resentment runs deep (especially in longer relationships)
Sometimes the resentment we harbour is a very old pain, from a relationship we have been a part of for a very long time, It may be a relationship between parent and child , with a family member, or a long-time partner.
When this is the case, it’s helpful to go a little further into our understanding of the other person, our perception of them, and what we mean to them.
Honour your pain
A deep resentment usually feels very painful. It is a need from the past that was not met, and hurt us very deeply.
We cannot move on from pain until it has been fully seen, acknowledged and allowed to come to the surface. The pain we feel from past wounds does not want to stay in our bodies, it actually wants to leave, and your body is bringing it up as a means for you to address it so you can finally release it.
When we push down the pain to protect ourselves from feeling it, we only hurt ourselves further. We also ensure that we don’t heal, and we keep the pain trapped inside of us.
You don’t have to fix it or find a solution for the problem the pain caused. All you have to do is honour it. Name it. Allow that part of you that experienced that pain to be seen, heard and felt. Feel compassion toward your past self for going through that difficult experience. When you do this, you will finally allow the pain to be fully seen, and as it rushes to the surface and you most likely cry it out and pour out your grief, something miraculous will happen. It will finally leave you. Your pain will be gone, or lessened dramatically by the mere act of allowing it to be. (Sometimes this needs to happen more than once for it to be completely gone).
- What pain did you experience by not having your needs met in the past, in this relationship?
- What part of you still hurts because of it?
- What name would you give this feeling?
- What do you want to say to this past version of yourself that lived through this difficult experience?
See this person as a human being
The next step is to humanize this person, and to not just see them as the source to fulfill your needs. Try to see this person as a human being, and not the source of having your needs met.
Just like you, this person is a human being and has the same needs. They have a heart and dreams and fears. They are doing the best they can with what they have. We all are. At the time of your hurt, they did not truly mean to hurt you. This doesn’t take away or minimize your hurt, but it helps you to heal as you can now nurture the wounded part of you yourself, the part that this person never did. For more resources on seeing your own pain and releasing it, check out the book Happy Days by Gabrielle Bernstein.
Forgiving the person for not meeting your need(s)
- What might this person have been going through in their own life that may have caused them to not meet your need(s)?
- Do you think they purposefully did not meet your needs? Why or why not?
- Do you think they tried the best they could with what they had?
- How do you think this person feels or felt about you? Why?
- What do you think is in their heart?
- What is in your heart towards this person?
- When they disappoint or upset you, does what’s in your heart go away?
The love is still there.
- How do you act towards this person or in general when you are disappointed or upset with someone?
- Does that mean you don’t love them?
- Do your actions match what’s in your heart?
Our relationships with people are not just the physical actions we take or that they take.
Its the thoughts that we think about them, the feelings we harbour inside. Even when we are upset with someone, in our hearts, the love is still there. It doesn’t just go away.
In the same way, when someone we are close to doesn’t show up for us, this doesn’t mean they don’t feel the same way for us anymore, it means something else is going on for them, you are still there in their heart, whether they show it or not.
Most of human communication is unspoken. As humans we are masters of disguising our true feelings and projecting outward a tougher exterior than we really have, just to project that we are unaffected by someone. Sometimes we push people away so that we don’t continue to get disappointed or hurt by them.
A lot of our actions are not congruent with what’s in our heart. That is why we cannot measure how much someone loves us only by the actions they take.
Actions are often self protective. Most people do not wear their heart on their sleeve, they may have at one point but after so much hurt throughout life, they learned to put it away to protect themselves. We instead can take stock of how we feel around someone. Do we feel seen, heard, valued, appreciated, loved, important? We need to make how we feel more important than the words they say. We also need to ask ourselves if what we feel is based on what’s currently happening, or if it is just the old story from the past, playing on repeat, and thus that’s what you’re seeing in front of you.
When you start to recognize this, you can release this story and write a new one.
That’s what releasing resentment is all about. It’s about freeing yourself from the chains of past behaviour and actions, or lack there of.
It’s about allowing yourself to step into the person you are now, and allowing your relationships to reflect that. By holding on to past hurts, we are only keeping them active in our now. We are not allowing ourselves to move forward. Recognizing and releasing resentments allows us to evolve and for our relationships to evolve with us.
We cant expect people to give us more love and care than they give themselves. It’s not other peoples job to love us and hold us up. It’s their job to love themselves, and our job to love ourselves. The love they share with us is byproduct of how they feel about their own self and their own life This why they say someone who does not love themselves cannot love you. When two people love themselves first, they can then share the love they feel inside freely and find things to appreciate about the other person.
In parent child relationships however, it is our parents job to love us when we are children. However, they can only deliver as much love as they are giving themselves also.
Seeing our parents as human beings with their own flaws and deficits will help us to see them differently
If you hold resentment toward your parent, it’s important to learn to see them as a human being, but its also important to recognize that unlike other relationships, your parents actually were your source of love when you were a child, and it was expected that they make you feel loved, valued, seen, cherished and heard.
However, if they did not, it’s not because you weren’t worth it, or that you didn’t deserve it, it’s because they couldn’t give you what they didn’t have. They couldn’t love you with anymore then they loved themselves. Now as an adult, you will have to learn to meet those unmet needs, to fill those long ago created voids, to hold yourself in the high regard and care that you longed for since you were a child. Your parent did not give it to you, was not able to give it to you, but now you can learn to give it to yourself.
Get started on this with my free self love workbook.
Focus on the good:
- What do you appreciate about this person?
- What are some of the good things they have done for you?
- What do you value about them and having them in your life?
Relationships are all about appreciating one another. They are actually not meant to be transactional. A common mistake we make in relationships is to only give when we get.
When this the perspective you hold, you are not going to experience the fullness of the love you otherwise would.
- What is your giving style in relationships? Do you give love in order to receive more from the other person? Do you act a certain way so that they cant leave you? Do you over-give to them so that they become dependent on you? Do you hold back until the other person bends over backwards for you or breaks down your walls?
Some people over-give so that the other person doesn’t have a reason to leave them. The problem with this is, it leads to you guessed it, resentment. Other people do not give until the other person has passed “tests” they have created in their mind to protect themselves, which can lead to resentment as well.
A bold truth that many do not want to hear is that there is no equal give and take. They’re not supposed to give you exactly what you give them. You’re supposed to love them because you are expressing what’s in your heart. Not because you want something in return. You’re with them because you genuinely care about their heart and wellbeing and you want what’s best for them. In romantic relationships, it’s also because you love their company, among other things.
Love is just a massive appreciation of someone . It’s seeing the positive attributes of someone and choosing to see those, and discount the not so positive attributes. It’s about not needing the person to be perfect, seeing that overall they are worthy and deserving, and you enjoy them as a whole.
Communication – the road to getting our needs met
- How do you go about getting your needs met?
- When you’re upset with this person, how do you communicate with them?
We often place blame on the other person for not meeting our needs, however just like us, they want to spoken to with love and respect. They need to feel safe, seen, loved, valued, and heard too.
We may not have realized that when we lash out or demand or make ultimatums, we are not making the person feel good, and they do not feel safe or comfortable doing what we want or need them to do. All relationships are a two way street, and we always get back what we put into them.
The effect you have on them
You have an effect on them, just as they have an effect on you.
Your mood, your vibe, the look on your face, the things you say, the things you don’t say, all convey your tone or how you’re feeling toward this person.
Its not just a one way street. You matter to them just like they matter to you. Understand they are human just like you and responding to you just as you respond to them. When people aren’t loving towards you, its often because they are protecting themselves from not receiving your love. Sometimes we get stuck in a viscous cycle of feeling resentful then acting resentful, and the other person does the same. In order to get past this, we first have to understand that we are both just people trying our best to feel loved and have our needs met, and often protect ourselves from not having our needs met.
- How have you acted in a self protective or defensive manner with this person?
- How might you handle that differently?
- How might this person’s behaviour have been self protective?
- What do you think they really wanted or needed from you?
The thoughts that you think about someone will determine how your relationship will go with them. Relationships do not originate in the physical realm, in the actions we take with one another. They originate with the thoughts that we think about each other, which leads to the feelings that we feel. Which then lead to the actions that we take, which are ultimately what we experience with each other.
We will always get from people what we expect to get from them. When we think positively about someone, we experience positive encounters with them. When we think negative thoughts about them, we experience negative encounters with them. Does this mean it’s your fault when someone is negative with you? No. It means you’re seeing the well practiced pattern of thought and behaviour between the two of you, and thus, its what’s most likely to happen.
We can positively impact the relationships in our lives simply by changing how we think about the person. We can learn to focus on the qualities we like more than the qualities we don’t. This is helpful even when the relationship has run its course and no longer can continue. To see the person in positive light overall, even though things didn’t work out with them will help you to have closure and to heal any wounds or resentments you may still carry towards them. If something is not working anymore, its OK to walk away. For your own inner peace however, let the resentment go so you can lessen the heaviness you feel in your heart. You always were worthy and deserving of the love you feel this person didn’t give you.
Somehow someway, you can learn to give that love you long for to yourself.
If you do want the relationship to work, this also means you have the power to influence it and move it toward a more positive direction. By working on resetting the way you think about them, you give the relationship a chance to start over and perhaps be even better than it was before. When you heal the way you think about them, you heal the way you show up with them, and thus receive different responses from them as well. This overall creates a positive cycle between the two of you, where new patterns of engaging with each other can and will emerge.
We enter into relationships because they make us feel good about ourselves and about our lives. It feels good to appreciate the good qualities in another person and for them to appreciate the good qualities in us. By focusing on the good qualities and things you appreciate about this person, slowly but surely, the way you feel towards this person, and the relationship itself will evolve into something much more pleasing for you.
Resentment is not final. It doesn’t mean that your relationship has to be over. It is just an indicator of your unmet need, and where you need to love yourself more. Once you do this for yourself, you can release the negative feelings you may be harbouring towards this person and start over. Whether the relationship continues or not, you will be in a much better place inside, feeling more inner peace about them and the situation, when you learn to release the resentment you feel.
- How do you feel about the relationship or this person now?
- What do you want to do moving forward?
- What have you learned about yourself through this process?
- How will this effect your relationships moving forward?
- Other thoughts/insights to note:
I truly hope this article helped you in your journey toward healing and healing the resentments you may be carrying inside. It’s never too late to lighten the heaviness in your heart and start over again. You deserve to be happy, and it all starts with you <3.
Download the pdf version of my journal prompts here: Releasing Resentments Journaling Pages
Until next time lovelies,
Thank you and please feel free to leave me your questions and comments below!
healing inner reflection personal growth relationships self love